The only people in the country surprised by the Bureau of Labor Statistics's latest numbers all just happen to be those responsible for our accelerating inflation problem. After years of near-zero interest rates combined with the federal government's $6 trillion spending bonanza, inflation has skyrocketed to its highest point since the Great Recession in 2008. From June of last year to this one, inflation has risen an extremely worrisome 5.4%.
The inflation doves relying on the Fed to fund their agenda with “free” debt will cry, yes, but the inflation is only bad because of a handful of industries! True, the sky-high price increases for gas (45.1%) and used cars (45.2%) are far greater than other categories delineated by the BLS, and it's a great thing that transportation only comprises a plurality of the budgets of us peasants. But even removing these items with the excuse of “volatility” paints a dire picture.
Inflation, sans food (up 2.4%), and energy costs (up 24.5% overall), still rose 4.5% from June of last year to this one, and it's worth digging into the numbers as a reality check that indeed confirms your life has gotten dramatically more expensive.
Phone bills are up 4.4% from a year ago, and likely thanks to the public school shutdowns, elementary and high school tuitions are up 3.1% amid a spate of new demand. Cable costs are up 5.1%, and physicians' services are 4.1% more expensive — and that's at the end of a pandemic. With local governments cracking down on vaping, cigarette prices are soaring, up 7.3% from last year, and the booze boom hasn't stopped, with alcohol prices up 1.9%.
And whatever money you saved shlepping in sweatpants for Zoom meetings will be spent quickly. Shoes are 6.5% pricier than last year, and men purchasing pants and women buying dresses to return to the office will find prices up 11.1% and 15.8% respectively. And overall household commodities such as furniture and cleaning products, even without energy prices, are up 8.7%.
Unless you have the privilege of working at one of the few companies that could afford giving raises in the past year, you have taken an effective 5.4% pay cut during a pandemic. Life got harder, and a combination of abysmal monetary and fiscal policy ensured it got more unaffordable. Our rulers may warn that fears of returning to the stagflation of the 1970s are overblown, but the numbers don't lie: It's 2008 again.
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